That Metal Show has been an underground hit within the heavy metal community for five years now. Why do I call it an underground hit? Because VH1 won’t put it on their HD channels! Instead, they choose to place it on their VH1 Classic network, which is kind of the redheaded stepchild of all their channels. Regardless, Eddie Trunk, Don Jamieson and Jim Florentine have found a way to beat the odds and created a successful and entertaining heavy metal talk show that we’ve all come to love!
A couple of weeks ago, That Metal Show kicked off its 12th season with none other than former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted as their first guest on their newly renovated set along with guest musician and legendary drummer Carmine Appice. That Metal Show also returned with some fan-favorite segments like “Stump The Trunk” and “The Vault,” but they do have some new additions this season including a segment called “Metal Modem,” which is set to be an online video chat with some of the biggest names in metal and hard rock that wouldn’t normally be on the show or couldn’t make it into Los Angeles, where the show is taped, because they are on tour. There’s also a segment called “Take It Or Leave It,” which, according to Eddie, is just another name for another older segment called “The Throwdown.” Some other “guest musicians” in season 12 will include missing in action former Ozzy guitarist Jake E. Lee, former Poison guitarist Richie Kotzen, and Carmine’s brother and Kill Devil Hill drummer Vinny Appice. Season 12 will also feature That Metal Show’s 100th episode, which will include my new bud, former Pantera bassist and current Kill Devil Hill bassist, Rex Brown, and his long-time pal and former Skid Row howler Sebastian Bach, whom Rex became friends with when Pantera and Skid Row toured together back in the late ‘90s. Episode 100 is destined to be filled with a lot of laughs and some of their greatest stories from those days.
I had a chance to chat with Eddie, Don and Jim as season 12 of That Metal Show was about to kick off, and I have to admit that it was a little weird interviewing these guys at first because I’ve been friends with each of them for such a long time. I always found it difficult to interview friends because then I have to kind of act somewhat professional, or like Don says, “act like a person.” I somehow made it work and this is how it went down:
Did you ever imagine that this show would last 12 seasons?
Eddie Trunk: I’ve been asked that question a lot and I was just happy to get it on the air five years ago. It was quite the fight to get it just on the air and then once I did, I was just happy to see it get on the air and get rolling. And then to have seen how it’s sunk in and connected with people, artists and fans alike, and also outside of America now and a lot of International territories, is really pretty remarkable. So I’m just happy we’re still doing it. We’re going to hit 100 episodes this new season and it’s been a phenomenal ride that I hope continues.
Don Jamieson: You know, after every season, I usually think to myself, “All right, well, that’s probably it.” So here we are, 12 seasons later. Of course, I’m thrilled! I want to do this until I’m 80, dude! We’ll call it That Metal Hip! If we’re lucky enough, we’ll keep doing it, but if it ended tomorrow, what a great accomplishment. I got to hang out with my two best friends on tv, talk about metal and get paid. God bless America!
Jim Florentine: I think since it’s on VH1 Classic, a network that doesn’t have much original programming and is kind of a hidden channel, it gave the show some time to breathe. If we were on NBC and didn’t get ratings within the first two or three weeks, we would’ve got canceled. So I think it’s on the perfect network for it to last this long and plus, metalheads are loyal. They’ll stick with us. They might not like a certain guest or two here and there, but other than that, they’re like, “What else am I gonna watch?” A 40-year-old guy in a rock shirt doesn’t have many options on a Saturday night at 11 o’clock.
You guys have added some new segments to the show like “Metal Modem.” Can you explain what that’s about?
ET: If you look at the history of the show, we always tried bringing in some different things from time to time. Some stuff has worked and some hasn’t. In the early days of the show, it was done in New York and was a half-hour show. Now, of course, it’s done in L.A. It’s an hour show. We have a little bit of music in there now, which we never had in the past. We’re always trying some new stuff, but this new run of shows is without a doubt the most substantial makeover that the show has had in its history.
We have a brand new set. The Metal Modem thing was just really an idea to try to bring people in via Skype. There are so many people who are on the road or in the studio and aren’t available to us when we need them that we said, “Well, how about if we just drop a screen and at least talk to them for a couple of minutes?”
DJ: We hate when we’re taping and we ask somebody 10 times to do the show and because of schedules, they couldn’t do it. Well, now there’s no excuse! “Where are you? You’re in Israel? We can Skype you in! You’re in Sweden? You can still be on the show!” And that’s what we did this season. I mean, Skype only came out in 2003, so we’re really only like 10 years behind the time (laughs).
JF: Plus, it’s good to get newer bands on just to give them more exposure. This season we have Jamey Jasta from Hatebreed on, Ben Weinman from Dillinger Escape Plan, Johan Hegg from Amon Amarth, and Danko Jones—we’ve been trying to get him on. So it’s a good three to four minute spot for a band that might not totally fit the format or they’re on tour so we can’t talk to them.
Has there been any thought in bringing at least one season back to New York since this is where you guys are all from?
ET: We actually had planned this special from Times Square, but the day that we were scheduled to shoot it was the day Hurricane Sandy hit. So we were scheduled to do a special that day and obviously, needless to say, it got canceled, but that was going to be kind of a New York homecoming sort of special that fell apart.
Once that got canceled, we ended up shooting a variation of that show in Vegas with Vince Neil. That special we did with Vince Neil was not supposed to happen. That was supposed to be the New York Times Square special.
So the idea of doing a special or doing something back in New York—which, of course, we’re all from New Jersey, we’re all based here, the network is still headquartered here—it’s come up, but doing a season from here is just really difficult. You said it yourself, the whole reason we do the show in L.A. is that 90 percent of the artist community that we’re trying to reach lives there, which makes booking the show so much easier. And at the end of the day, the only people that care whether we do the show in New York or L.A. is people who live in New York or L.A.
Who was your favorite guest on this season of That Metal Show?
ET: Well, Jason Newsted, who was on our premiere show, was great. He was a first time guest. The guy that a lot of people had been asking me about because we did a segment on the show called “Whatever Happened To…,” where viewers would email in and ask us whatever happened to this guy or that guy and we’d answer, and I guess, probably, one of the top three guys that we had consistently come up in that category was Jake E. Lee.
So I went on this long crusade to track Jake E. Lee down in Vegas and established some connection and trust with him and finally, we have Jake, who nobody’s probably seen or heard from in 20 years, breaking his silence. And he’s not only interviewed in one of the shows, he plays in two shows as well. So he’ll be seen in three of the eight new episodes and I think that a lot people are really excited about that. A lot of people really love that guy and a lot of people were wondering where the hell he’s been. So hopefully in the time we had with him, people get a little idea what’s going on with him.
JF: I was super-psyched to have Jake E. Lee on also. He hasn’t been around for a while. He was laying low and stuff and like Eddie said, he plays on a couple episodes and he’s a guest on another. I was also super-psyched to have Neil Fallon from Clutch and Rick Allen from Def Leppard.
DJ: Jake E. Lee was my favorite too! To have him back and to have him use our show as sort of his re-launch, that was really exciting. Obviously you and I both are huge Ozzy fans, especially the Bark At The Moon period and Ultimate Sin, so Jake of course is one. Like Jim said, Neil Fallon from Clutch I was really excited to have on since that’s a little outside the box for us. I like a lot of stuff Clutch has done over the years. Neil’s got a killer, killer sense of humor, so he really brought it on our show. He was awesome! And we got the other side of Queensrÿche this season to come out and speak their piece since Geoff Tate was on last season. I was actually waiting for them to break off into a third Queensrÿche! But it never happened (laughs).
In the past five years, have any of you ever been starstruck with any of the guests you’ve had on the show?
ET: You know, Tim, I’ve said this before too. The difference is, you referenced how long I’ve been in the music business, which is 30 years, so for me, there was never really an instance where… Well, there may have been two instances out all the guests that we’ve had in the history of That Metal Show that have ever sat down that I don’t know or haven’t interviewed already or in some cases, are good friends. So because I’ve been doing this so long and because I have the two radio shows, 90 percent of the time there’s an immediate comfort factor because in some instances, I’ve just had these guys on my radio show a week earlier. So I’ve got a huge history with a lot of these guys. Because of that, although I’m certainly still a fan, that’s really not a factor for me.
Then again, when you have Tony Iommi sitting there with you, as much as I’ve gotten to know Tony over the years, it’s still, “Holy shit! That’s Tony Iommi!” So you’re always gonna have those moments. As a huge UFO fan, when I had Michael Schenker hand me his guitar, that’s some pretty heavy stuff for me. When I’m sitting there reviewing Aerosmith records with Joe Perry, that’s when you kind of take a second and think, “Damn, when I had these guys’ posters on my wall as a little kid, I didn’t think this would be happening.” So you’re always going to have those moments.
DJ: I’m more that way with sports guys because I’m not in the sports world, where I’ve always had my hand in the metal world and have met a lot of these guys guesting up on Eddie’s radio show or backstage at a concert or whatever, but there are a few guys that still geek me out like Alice Cooper, who gets me every time because I’m such a huge fan and he is such a genuinely nice guy. So anytime he’s on the show, I sort of become a little schoolgirl, and Eddie and Jim just know to just let me take over the interview and get all my geeky questions out of the way.
JF: For me, every season there is one! Brian Johnson from AC/DC, when Lars [Ulrich] first came on, Kirk Hammett, Steve Harris from Maiden, when [Rob] Halford first came on, the late Ronnie James Dio, Geezer Butler, Iommi came in, Sammy Hagar, Michael Anthony, so every season… Tom Morello, when he came in, I was like, “Holy shit!” And I guess this season was Jake E. Lee. Definitely Neil Fallon from Clutch I was excited about coming in and Rick Allen from Def Leppard—I never met him before. I’m a total fanboy! I make sure my camera is always fuckin’ charged! And then if they come in the next time, I get the photo blown up to an 8×10 and I make them sign it. I’m a huge fanboy!
In the past 12 seasons, was there anything said during any interview where you were like, “What the hell did he just say?”
ET: Yeah, well, that happens a lot in “Stump The Trunk.” They’ll tell me a lot of times that I’m wrong when I’m right or they’re not right. Our research is often faulty and some of that is by design because they want to see me go crazy.
In this current season, there was a show with Rick Allen from Def Leppard and he’s sitting there and he says to me, whatever the “Stump The Trunk” question came out and I gave the answer, and they were like, “Oh no, you’re wrong! Bring out the prize!” And while the prize came out, Rick whispered in my ear, “Hey, mate! I think you were right by the way on that!” and I was like, “You gotta be kidding me!”
So that stuff happens all the time. Some of it is done to stir the pot and to just have some fun and others just because the research department screwed up! But as far as things that the artists have said, Jason Newsted shed some light on his lack of bass on his first album with Metallica […And Justice For All], which I thought was interesting, but there’s stuff like that. I mean, I’m always learning and I’m always listening.
JF: I think it was when Geoff Tate was on last season and we were talking about the whole Queensrÿche split and we were talking about him actually spitting on his drummer Scott Rockenfield because there’s video of that at this big festival in Brazil and he’s like, “Yeah, I did it!” He also said it was the most degrading thing you can do to somebody and yes, he definitely did it. I was like, “Holy shit!” You would think that you could probably get arrested for something like that. So the fact that he admitted it instead of saying, “Ah, I just slipped, I didn’t mean to, I forgot where I was on the stage,” that kind of shocked me.
DJ: There was also the time that Marilyn Manson came on and he was drinking absinthe through the whole interview. He said some crazy stuff that made the air. So you can imagine the stuff that got cut out. He was just making rape jokes and AIDS jokes the entire time. I don’t know how they cut around all that stuff because he was really pretty out of control, but it actually looked pretty good on the air. I just felt bad for Biff Byford from Saxon because he was the second guest that day and he didn’t get a lot of words out.
Catch That Metal Show in its 12th season every Saturday night at 11 p.m. on VH1 Classic. For more information and to watch full episodes, go to VH1.com.